Hands-on review: HP Pavilion x2 (2015)

With Windows 10‘s release coming just around the bend on July 29, it’s a bit fitting to see HP introduce a new 10-inch tablet-PC hybrid. Christened the HP Pavilion x2, this 2-in-1 laptop comes with a big redesign along with some refreshed internals and a newfangled USB type C port for charging.

Priced at $300 or £250 (about AU$383), the HP Pavilion x2 will come this July 21 as a direct competitor to the $499 (£419, AU$699) Surface 3. Not only do these to machine share a similar screen size, they both come running with an Intel Atom processor, 32GB of SSD storage and 2GB of RAM.

However, the HP 2-in-1’s biggest differentiator from the Surface 3 (as well as last year’s Pavilion x2) is this machine has been built as a laptop first. Whereas last year’s Pavilion x2 was a tablet with a detachable keyboard stand, this year the hybrid splits into a detachable screen that links up with a standard keyboard.

Along with a better typing experience, the new x2 is also more versatile, offering a few additional modes of usage, such as tent and stand.

HP Pavilion x2 (2015)

Design

The Pavilion x2’s screen by itself weighs just 1.29 pounds, making this one of the lightest tablet-laptops I’ve held in a long time. This also means the x2 as a tablet on its own is a tenth of a pound less than the 1.37 pound Surface 3. Adding the keyboard, however, brings the total weight of this package up to 2.48 pounds. Either way though, this newer model is still lighter than the 2014 Pavilion x2 that tips the scales at 2.5 pounds

As a tablet, the X2 also measures 9.65mm thin (just as thin as the previous model) and 16.75mm with the keyboard attached. By comparison, the Surface 3 measures in 8.7mm thick, so Microsoft wins here.

HP Pavilion x2 (2015)

The HP Pavilion x2 is about as plastic as a laptop can get without a single bit of metal, but the overall unit feels sturdy enough. You can even hold up this machine by its screen and have the keyboard dangle without worrying it will fall off.

This is thanks to a strong set of magnets inside the x2’s half cylindrical hinge, which also helps to prop the keyboard up onto a small incline when the laptop is open. Pulling off the screen is as simple as giving the tablet portion a strong tug, meanwhile, magnetism will literally help guide the display back into place.

HP Pavilion x2 (2015)

Triple changer

Because the new Pavilion x2 base is made of a solid piece of plastic rather than a dinky keyboard cover, you can actually stand the laptop up on it sides. This opens up a few more modes you can use this 10.1-inch device in, such as having it sit on its side like a book. Alternatively, the laptop could rest on its top and bottom edges in tent mode.

Comparatively, last year’s model could only be positioned between two different angles of incline and a presentation mode where the only the display would be in view with the unit sitting on top of its keyboard.

HP Pavilion x2 (2015)

Don’t call it little

Despite being such a small unit, the Pavilion x2 comes with some powerful speakers tuned by Bang & Olufsen. The forward facing tweeters might look small positioned right next to the tablet’s 10.1-inch screen, but they easily projected a rock song across a few feet without sounding tinny at all.

Unfortunately, the screen is a little less impressive with a resolution of only 1,280 x 800, so HD streams and other high-resolution content may look a bit fuzzy on this display. But again this device only costs $299 and the panel HP picked for this machine actually does not look half bad with good color and wide viewing angles.

HP Pavilion x2 (2015)

Even the keyboard is pretty decent – if a bit small – and HP made sure the keys would have at least 1.3mm of travel. Likewise, the trackpad takes up every bit of remaining space left below the keyboard with a more than serviceable pointing device.

You will, however, have the option of upgrading the storage to 64GB. Sadly, memory is stuck in 2GB land and the only way to get out is to crack open the machine yourself for a DIY upgrade. Users will also receive an included one-year Microsoft Office 365 subscription, plus 60 minutes of Skype calling and 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage to sweeten the pot.

HP Pavilion x2 (2015)

Early verdict

HP’s been known to break new ground in the affordable Windows laptop space, and so far, the Pavilion x2 looks to be the convertible follow up to the $300 (£179, AU$299) Stream. Considering everything this machine comes with including the quad-core Intel Atom CPU, HD display and it transforms – this is pretty damn good for the money.

That said, being limited to 32GB SSD and 2GB of RAM worries me a bit, as the Stream has proven before Windows 8.1 simply needs more resources. I’ll have to see if the HP Pavilion x2 runs into the same road blocks with Windows 10 in my upcoming full review. Stay tuned to TechRadar until then.

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